How does a high school senior decide on a college when college campuses are closed due to the coronavirus?

Access to college campuses is non-existent right now and many high school seniors may have been counting on that final visit to a college to make their decision. The reality is that many students will have to select a college during this unprecedented circumstance.

At PayForED, we feel the college selection decision should always include a combination of the environment, academics, and affordability.  Although we list three major areas of interest, at PayForED we focus on providing families with financial aid information, paying for college strategies and student loan options.  Even though this is our business, we do acknowledge how important viewing the right environment will be for the college decisions.

So, what can a family do now when you can’t leave your home?  Listed below are some suggestions for students:

  1. Take a virtual tour

Today, we are lucky to have the internet.  Many colleges have virtual campus tours on their websites to show the highlights of their campus.  Take advantage of this opportunity.  The tour may show you parts of the campus that you have missed.  Also, check out the school’s Facebook page. At Saint Joseph’s University, I found a walking tour by a current student.

  1. Check out the College newspaper online.

Often colleges will allow you to sign up to see all the college magazine publications and there may be podcasts showcasing either professors or students.

  1. Use Technology to connect with current students or alumni

The best examples of the college environment and a campus often come from current and former students at that school.  Use Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn to find current enrolled students and alumni. Don’t miss out on any unanswered questions or highlights of a campus.

  1. Call the admission office

Colleges are working remotely but are still available to answer questions. Find out what is being offered for prospective students.  Ask if FaceTime, Skype or is the phone the best way to make contact for future questions?

  1. Determine the distance from home

The distance from home is always a discussion point, especially since you will need to evaluate transportation on both a cost and a time basis.  Today, due to the current campus shutdowns you need to also determine if your opinion about going far away has changed? Is it now a priority to be closer to your family?

  1. Review the weather

You may wonder why I listed this topic. The first time you visited a school this may not have been a top consideration but now you have the time to look at the weather patterns.  The weather and the ability to get home quickly may have changed due to the current circumstances.

Weighing the pros and cons of the schools on your college list is always difficult.  In one of our previous blog articles, “Ten Top College Affordability List Building Factors” we added other factors that you should be considering as you compare your award letters.  See if there are any factors that you may have missed.

At PayForED, we believe that to make an informed decision, a family needs to take a broader view and understand the four-year cost of college.  This includes a projection of cost and student loan debt.  The PayForED approach strives to add the transparency that is missing from the current college decisions process.  Our online tool can compare your award letter in the standard financial format, so that side by side comparisons are easier.  The four-year projection gives your a projection of the financial outcome at graduation that is missing in the decision process.  PayForED can help and make it easy!  Our college planning software generates customized numbers that help families find the best college value, avoid excessive student loans and make informed decisions.

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